How to set up a company web site in 30 minutes

My good friend Lars Swanstrøm asked me the other day if there was an efficient way of getting up a company web site. The law firm he is working for felt the need for a presence on the Web.

My wife Susanne and I decided the fastest and easiest way was to use a ready to run blog service. Google’s Blogger is free and efficient, but adds a menu to the top of every page. That does not really spell professionalism.

We therefore suggested that they put up a Wordpress.com blog, i.e. a blog in the cloud and not on a server of their own. Doing it this way means that they do not have to worry about software upgrades and patches.

Wordpress.com is free as well, but we suggested that they spent a few kroner for a premium bundle, allowing for more customization, a proper domain, no ads and more space. (US$ 99)

They had already bought a domain name (hjemmeadvokaten.no), so it was only a matter of redirecting it to their new wordpress.com blog.

Setting up a basic blog is done in a few minutes. However, it does take a little longer to get a grasp of the logic underpinning such a tool. My wife and I have blogged since 1998, which means that what may seem easy to us, is not necessarily so for a newcomer.

Here are some of the lessons learned:

Understand the difference between posts and pages. Blogs consists of posts, the newest presented at the top of the blog’s home page. Traditional web sites, on the other hand, consists of static web pages, always available via the main menu. In this case we wanted the site to consist mainly of pages presenting the firm and its experts.

Given that Google love informative articles, however, we also recommended that the lawyers write a few high quality articles that will be of interest to readers searching for such services. These articles may draw people to the site and to the company.

Stick to a clean and simple design, unless you really know what you are doing. Clean means professional.

Getting a keyboard for the iPad

Originally published on April 13 2011

I love the iPad. It is fun, innovative and has an extremely high wow factor. However, when someone asked if I would recommend one, I normally asked that it is the kind of gizmo that is nice to have, but which you can do without.

I use it to read comics, magazines, read news, follow my web feeds and.. well.. one of our cats love the cat game for the iPad (seriously!).

It was not until a few weeks ago that I realized that I could actually use it for something “useful”, as I brought my room documents as PDF files on the iPad to an OECD meeting. I can now leave that heavy folder behind.

Still, I am still not comfotable with the virtual keyboard. It is not tactile. I need to watch the screen all the time. So yesterday my wife and I went to the local Apple dealer and asked for an iPad dock with a keyboard.

“You do not need one,” the salesman said. “If you a have an iPad case with a stand, it is better to buy a regular Apple wireless keyboard.”

He was right. I connected the wireless keyboard via Bleuetooth in less than a minute, and here I am, writing a blog post in the same speed as I would on our regular Mac. Now the iPad has become a serious replacement for the MacBook when travelling!

How to back up 100GB online from a PC

We have a lot of music. We have managed to rip most of our CDs, and are now buying most of our music online through iTunes and the like.

Our iTunes library has now a whopping 90 GB of music and if you add regular files that are not uploaded to Gmail, we need to back up at least 110 GB worth of data.

Yes, we do have an external hard drive and Apple’s new Leopard OS has an excellent back up facility called Time Machine. It works, but this backup is nothing worth if — God forbid — there should be a fire.

Given our ADSL broadband connection I started to search for online backup solutions. It would be great if we could get the Mac to automatically back up all new files to a remote server, and then forget about it. Whatever happens, we will have a complete copy of all the music and all the images stored away somewhere.

We actually do have a .mac account, that can be used for this purpose, but at least in Europe it is very slow, and it will choke on this amount of data.

I found a large number of seemingly high quality services online, but they all become pretty expensive when you reach the 100GB limit. They are well suited for companies, but not for private homes.

I found one service though, that promises unlimited storage for a reasonable price (USD 4.95 per month) , namely Mozy. Even better, they have a Mac version of the software in beta, and the encryption seems solid.

(more…)

The electric car Th!nk and the timing of innovation

We all have a tendency to think that there is something inevitable about great innovations, but the fact is that timing is extremely important. If you launch a new invention, product or idea before the time is ripe, society will ignore it.

There may be several reasons for this:

Think from Norway

  • The necessarily infrastructure may be missing (hydrogen cars without hydrogen stations)
  • The ideological climate may not allow it (selling vodka in Saudi Arabia)
  • The entrepreneur does not have the marketing competences needed (marketing a high quality mobile phone with an old fashioned design to the in-crowd)
  • Lack of funding (do you know a good venture capitalist, and can you convince her?)
  • Bad luck (didn’t meet the right person at the right time)
  • etc.

The electric Th!nk car is an innovation that has failed repeatedly because of bad timing:

(more…)

Double the value of your iPod

First of all, buy a decent set of earphones!

Black video iPodAs a young student in the early 1980s I bought my first proper NAD stereo paid financed with my summer job salary. The sound from the Boston loudspeakers was amazing compared to my old portable cassette radio, and I learned to appreciate the importance of a good receiver.

Fast forward to 2007: The old NAD LP turntable is now in the basement, and we haven’t used the living room CD player for over a year.

We are still buying CDs, but now we rip them in iTunes and put them up on the shelf, never to touch them again. Our primary mode of listening to music has become our iPods.

Here comes the paradox: The sound quality of a regular iPod setup is lower than my old cassette radio’s! So although a iTunes/iPod setup is a huge step forward as regards practical management of a music collection, it seems to represent a sad step back as regards sound quality.

It doesn’t have to be this way, and I am going to present a few steps that may give you back that great feeling of finally being able to listen to the music in the way it was supposed to be enjoyed.

1. Buy some great loudspeakers to your PC/Mac
Harman Kardon Soundsticks II 2.1 speakers
We have come to the point that we listen more to music when working on the Mac than in the living room. Adding a decent set of loudspeakers and a sub woofer to your computer setup, will improve the listening experience significantly.

(more…)

Upgrading a MacBook Pro

MacBook Pro 17 inchWe have given up on regular desktop computers. They take too much space and make too much noise. Hence our newest PC is the first incarnation of the Apple MacBook Pro 17″ (Intel Core Duo). It’s easy to store away, but does at the same time have a large enough screen for serious graphic design.

Apple is generous when it comes to design and quality. The 17″ is an expensive machine, so I guess we where a bit disappointed when we found that the machine was no faster than our previous “lamp post” PowerPC iMac. i mean, Apple boasted that this machine should be up till five times faster!

We also saw a lot of the so-called beach-ball of death. This is a symbol that pops on the screen when the Mac is looking for disk resources and it takes time to find them.

We are power users, which means that we have a large number of programs up and running at the same time, including email. iTunes, Word, Photoshop, interarchy FTP, Pagespinner HTML editor, Firefox. And that is on a slow day. Using the Activity Monitor we found that 1GB of memory simply is not enough to use such a machine effectively.

Today we went down to our local humac Apple store and bought another gigabyte, and yes, that made all of the difference! It is now running as fast as it should.

We wonder, though, why Apple are selling high end machines like this with only 1GB memory. Come to think of it, until very recently Apple actually sold machine with half that amount of RAM. We do understand that 100 EUR here and 100 EUR there — it adds up. Still, it could be more expensive to piss Mac-users off.

And yes, we installed the new memory chips all by ourselves. It is not that hard really, if you have a clean table, a very small screwdriver and a focused mind.